Last week Carys Bray visited Books with Bunny as part of her blog tour for The Museum of You and told us about one of her own favourite museums. I'm very fortunate to have a second date on the blog tour too, which gives me an opportunity to talk about this wonderful book!
The blurb says -
Clover Quinn was a surprise. She used to imagine she was the good kind, now she’s not sure. She’d like to ask Dad about it, but growing up in the saddest chapter of someone else’s story is difficult. She tries not to skate on the thin ice of his memories.
Darren has done his best. He's studied his daughter like a seismologist on the lookout for waves and surrounded her with everything she might want - everything he can think of, at least - to be happy.
What Clover wants is answers. This summer, she thinks she can find them in the second bedroom, which is full of her mother's belongings. Volume isn't important, what she is looking for is essence; the undiluted bits: a collection of things that will tell the full story of her mother, her father and who she is going to be.
But what you find depends on what you're searching for.
I've not read anything by Carys Bray before, but The Museum of You was an absolute treat. The exquisite writing immediately draws you into Clover and Darren's world, the evocative descriptions pulling you in and the observational humour gave me many a wry smile - you'll see flashes of people you know in the quirky cast of characters. The writing is absolutely beautiful - think of Seamus Heaney's talent for conveying the senses and you'll be along the right lines - and although the pace is slow that added to rather than detracted from this book's charm.
The plot itself follows Clover's desire to find out more about her mother through the belongings her dad has shut away in the spare room. Taking it upon herself to be the curator of the 'museum', studying anything which may give her a glimmer of insight into the woman her mother was, Clover digs up the past. It is a heart-achingly touching subject matter which Bray conveys perfectly through gorgeous, glorious glimpses into Clover's life and thoughts. As someone who lost a parent at a young age, I certainly related to the way Clover felt a need to connect with her mum and that she didn't know how to do it other than through the items stored in the bedroom. Although I loved Clover, without Darren's contrasting view this book wouldn't have worked as well. The juxtaposition of daughter/father, younger/older, innocence/knowledge is what made it.
The Museum of You would make an excellent reading group read and will appeal to anyone who likes their books uplifting and life-affirming. Clover Quinn - you gorgeous girl. You're a character who'll stay with me for a very long time. And Carys Bray - thank you for writing a book which spoke to me more than you'll ever know.
Out now in ebook and hardback, published by Hutchinson.
With thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book.